TODAY -

Next possible language riots in Assam : Manipuris vs Assamese ?

Yambem Laba *

 YACPIP appeals Assam Govt to include Manipuri Language as Associate official Language on July 14 2020
YACPIP appeals Assam Govt to include Manipuri Language as Associate official Language on July 14 2020 :: Pix - IT News



The odd six lakhs Manipuri population residing in Assam are up in arms against the Assam BJP Government. This had followed a notification by the Assam Public Service Commission whereby it had mandatory for all aspirants to qualify in either Bengali or Bodo languages should they hope to be selected for any examinations being conducted by it. Exemptions have been given for the Karbis and Dima Hajos tribal population of the State.

Taking strong exception to it Hijam Rajen Singha a Manipuri hailing from Cachar and founder of the Pan Meitei Convention (Meitei being the indigenous name for the Manipuris) wrote a strong letter of protest to Ramnath Kovind , Hon'ble President of India.

In his memorandum he took exception to three advertisements of the Assam administration. The first was No. AAP2/9/20/2018/10 Dated 5 August 2019 issued by the Department of Personnel Govt. of Assam; the second one was Adverisement No. 06/2019/dated 19-11-2019 issued by the Assam Public Service Commission advertising for the recruitment to the posts of Assistant Engineers and Junior Engineers and the third one was the advertisement issued by the Secretary of the Medical and Health Recruitment Board of Assam vide notification No. MHRB/21/D/2019/307 calling for posts of Inspector of Drugs to be filled in it.

All the the three advertisements had warranted that all candidates compulsorily requires the clearing of either of the three language tests of Assamese, Bengali or Bodo. This has left in lurch thousands of Manipuri aspirants. He reiterated that the entire execise is against the understanding given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikhas , Sabka Biswas".

Citing that the Manipuri language had been included as a Schedule Language under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India since 1992 and that since the year 2000 it has been made an optional subject of the Combined Civil Service examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.

Tracing the historical route of the Manipuri language it was also pointed out that since 1924 the Calcutta University had introduced it as a vernicular language for the Matriculation examination.

Following independence the Gauhati University had in 1949 introduced Manipuri as a Modern Indian Language in intermediary and Bachelor of Arts examinations too. And today the Assam University , Silchar offers Manipuri as a subject for its Post Graduate, M Phil and PhD programmes since 1997.. Besides the Assam Government had as early as 1956 had made Manipuri a medium of instructions at the Primary and up to Class Ten in 1976.

Rajen in his appeal to the President had also pointed out that being a linguistic minority and an economically backward community of Assam the Manipuris of Assam had always encouraged their children to study in Manipuri medium with the view of safeguarding their language and culture but now their future appears to be doomed.

It was demanded that the Assam Government be advised to include Manipuri language as an "associate" language of Assam for the purpose of appearing in it as an qualifying paper for the the examinations conducted by the Assam Public Services Commission alongwith Assamese, Bengali and Bodo languages and further to introduce Manipuri as an optional paper for the Mains examination of the state Commission for recruitments to the Assam Civil and Police Services and other fields.

And that in all future recruitments of the Government of Assam ,the Manipuri language should be kept on par with that of the three other languages viz; Assamese, Bengali and Bodo. Rajen also said that he has approached Debabrata Saikia Opposition Leader of Assam and R.K. Ranjan Member of Parliament from Manipur personally to press home the issue.

Also the Joint Action Committee for Safeguard of Indigenous Manipuri People of Assam a conglomerate of 16 powerful Manipuri organizations of Assam including the All Assam Manipuri Students Union, Manipuri Youth Front, Assam, Manipuri National Council Assam and the All Assam Manipuri Women's Meira Paibi Co-ordinating Committee signed by Nandababu Singha of the Assam Civil Service, Professor Dhiren Singha of the Assam University and Hijam Rajen had cited historical documents including the Assam Accord to stress home their point home to Sabrananda Shabrawal Chief Minister of Assam on the need to safeguard the interests of the Manipuri people now residing in Assam in view of the threat to their well being on account of the recent stand of the Government of Assam over job recruitments and the language factor at work.

And also jumping into the fray is the Union of Associations of Manipuri Rights consisting of 28 different pressure groups have written to the President of India, the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Sabhrawal of Assam , N. Biren Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur and Governor Najma Heptullah of Manipur.

They have reiterated that the Sahitya Akademi of India had recognized this language as early as 1972 and that it is now being taught both at the Assam and Manipur Universities both from the undergraduate to post graduate levels as well as PhD programmes. And that the Assam Government should actively and urgently reconsider their language formula of recruitment to jobs in Assam before things go out of hand.

Meanwhile observers have noted the insensitivity of the Assamese administration to such a touchy and sensitive issue like that of language. Assam which had since the early 1950s had seen tension and riots over the language issue following the States re-organization Act whereby states were created based on the language of the people and that Assam should have Assamese as the sole language.

It was in 1960 when Bimala Prasad Chaliya had piloted the Bill towards making Assamese as the sole language of the State. In 1961 protests against this provision broke out out in the Bengali dominated areas of Karimganj and Cachar where many died.

It should do well for Sabhrawal to remember that it was the Shanti Parsishad spearheaded by the Manipuris of Cachar alongwith other indigenous population comprising of the Cacharis as well as the Muslims that had stood by the provisions of Assamese being the sole official language of the State.

It is noteworthy to note that both the Bodos as well as the Karbis came into prominence in Assam only after they took up guns. Said Rajen , the Assam Government should realize that it is not only about securing jobs but also that of showing respect to their mother tounge "Manipuri" that is irking the Manipuri youths in Assam today and that it would do well not to push the Manipuri youths against the wall for they might fight back with guns.

And sabhrawal who has just coped with the Bodos and the karbi problems on one hand and Paresh Barua's ULFA(Independent) on the other will have a bigger problem at hand should a group like 'Manipuri Liberation Front of Assam" should crop up. It would augur well for the former AASU leader and now the Chief Minister of the State to puyt on his thinking cap and solve the problem before it becomes a prairie fire.


* Yambem Laba wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on August 14 2020 .



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